When: 10th – 12th April 2015
Where: Morpeth, Northumberland
£: Ticket prices vary depending on the event, some events are free
What is it?
The people of Morpeth will welcome visitors the weekend after Easter, as the town showcases Northumberland’s traditions in the annual festival of music, dance, craft and dialect. This year’s Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering will take place from Friday 10th April to Sunday 12th April, with 60 events including bellringing, stalls, puppets, competitions, have-a-go workshops, and orienteering. There will be special family events including a Saturday morning pageant and the Storyteller’s Garden.
First World War commemorations are going to be part of the festival, with plenty of music from that era. This will include music hall songs, and pipe marches and tunes which were played by pipers during trench warfare. There will also be mouth organs and morris tunes, used by the dance teams which were so cruelly struck down when members volunteered to fight. The wider War and Peace theme brings in stories of conscientious objectors, peace songs from across history, and the ballads and melodies of the turbulent Border Reiver period.
Digital sound artist Rachael Hales will present her latest installation, inspired by local WW1 experiences. A gala concert on the Friday will combine items from a hundred years ago with modern peace songs performed by such leading singers and choirs as Jim Bainbridge, Steve Fry and Werca’s Folk.
The central venue is the Town Hall, which as well as a three-day craft exhibition, hosts the Winners’ Concert on the Saturday, which this year has special guest Bob Fox. Singer and local lad, Bob Fox played The Songman in the acclaimed National Theatre production of WarHorse.
Family art workshops will produce mini war horse puppets and doves, and international flags representing the peaceful mingling of cultures on modern Morpeth. These will feature in the Saturday morning procession, which will be joined this year by the spectacular Sheffield City Giants, two carnival figures portraying War and Peace.
Re-enactors will stage a First World War recruiting scene and carry out military drills on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons, while Saturday night ends with a lively barn dance to music by The Hedgehog’s Skin. Throughout the weekend will be dance, music and craft workshops, including music sessions particularly for younger people. To end the festivities, Ray Stephenson will present ‘Geordies on Wax’, featuring early sound recordings relating to aspects of local dialect and song from a century ago.
More info: www.northumbriana.org.uk/gathering